Fight back for Myanmar democracy

PPTA Te Wehengarua and UnionAID support the workers' fight for democracy in Myanmar.

The stop-work protest initiated by nurses and doctors two days after the recent coup in Myanmar is now a massive country-wide movement of young people, factory workers, teachers, engineers and civil society staff.

Acts of defiance include a nationwide strike on February 22nd, the noisy banging of pots and pans by neighbours when activists are seized at night, and roadblocks of 'broken down' cars aimed at preventing government staff getting to work.

Supporting Myanmar Railway Workers Federation since 2012

It is estimated that about 30% of public service workers have stopped working, and with the suggestion by one prominent political activist that public service workers will determine the outcome of the protest movement. Protestors are now targeting government buildings and housing to encourage employees to stop work and join the protests.

UnionAID has been supporting the Myanmar Railway Workers Federation since it was registered in 2012, when Freedom of Association laws were passed after 50 years of illegality. Their members have also been active in the civil disobedience movement (CDM), lying down on the tracks with other supporters to prevent the military commandeering trains.

They know what they want

Almost 100 young leaders, from 19 different ethnicities, have graduated since 2009 from the MFAT

funded Myanmar Young Leaders Programme. Many are now taking leadership roles in desperate, but peaceful, mass actions to demonstrate their support for democracy. After 10 years of fragile democracy they know what they want for their children.

They certainly don't want to return to oppressive military rule, which previously reduced Myanmar from 'the rice bowl of Asia' to one of the poorest countries in the region. And they certainly don't want their children to be denied decent education, health care, and other human rights, as they and their parents' generation were.

Possibility of a better future

No-one knows how this will finish but, for many protestors, it is "do or die". After 10 years of transition to democracy, they have seen the possibility of a better future and they want that for their children too.

PPTA supports the work of UnionAID as a financial contributor for the work they do for our union comrades in Asia Pacific. To find out more about them visit

PPTA solidarity with Myanmar

PPTA president Melanie Webber and general secretary Michael Stevenson expressed their solidarity with those impacted by the Myanmar coup, by calling on the New Zealand embassy in Myanmar to condemn the actions taken by their military.

They described the military coup, which saw democratically elected president, Win Myint, state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and more than 100 elected lawmakers of the National League for Democracy (NLD) arrested and detained, as a blow to the fragile transition of Myanmar to democracy. "With great courage and determination, tens of thousands of peaceful citizens, including many workers, teachers and unionists have taken the streets to oppose the illegitimate military takeover of their country and express their support to their democratically elected representatives," they said.

"The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association calls on you to condemn the military coup in Myanmar and to press for the release of all those detained since 1 February, the end to the violence and harassment against the people, and respect of the election outcomes to allow the process of democratisation of Myanmar to continue," they said.

"The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association stands in solidarity with the Myanmar Teachers' Federation (MTF) and all workers in the country in their struggle for democracy."

Last modified on Wednesday, 7 April 2021 15:41